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A New York Wedding!

Sep 4

In Fun, In The Field at 8:14am

Gene is a good guy, and a good shooter who works at Adorama. He was about to get married, last week, at City Hall in downtown Manhattan. He mentioned to his colleague, Annie, my wife, that he kinda, sorta, needed somebody to take some pictures. Annie made a call.

How could you not shoot a joyous few hours like this? Gene’s bride, Olivia, was radiant and beautiful. Gene himself was so over the top in love I coulda used his bald pate as a Group B kicker light. Sharing this day with them was a great way to start the year. (I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve never gotten off of school schedule. August is always dog days, a reprieve and recharge period. September means back at it.)

The day started early at an East Side hotel. Olivia donned her veil (very proud she had found it for $5) and pulled herself together while Gene clutched the marriage license and engaged in deep breathing exercises. Rings? Check! ID’s? Check! Metro card? Check!

And off we went to the subway.

If New York City were a human body, the subway system would be the veins. They nourish the city by ushering people on a mission to every nook and neighborhood. On a subway car, you hear everything from Swahili to French to German to Farsi to English—the unique, mixed jargon of the underground. Very international, which is to say, quite local, given the fact of New York.

Gene, from Ohio, and Olivia, from Zimbabwe, fit right in, and given their attire, and the fact they had a photog in tow, were warmly received on the six train to City Hall and the courts. As block after block zipped by overhead, the congratulations flowed, and good spirits filled the car. It was such a treat as a shooter. Instead of being greeted with the usual mix of subway suspicion and indifference, punctuated by the occasional growl of annoyance at a flash pop interrupting the morning look at Page Six, I was an honored guest. People suggested shots, and had no problem with me squeezing into a crevice on a bench to get an angle.

We flew to City Hall. And found some light along the way.

Once inside, I found myself in an effervescent swirl of happy humanity, all of them there to simply declare their love of someone. This wasn’t atheist, or Christian, or Jewish, or Buddhist. It didn’t have a color, or a preference. It wasn’t about where you were from. It was about where you were about to go with the person you had just declared your love for.

Now, it’s still a government bureaucracy. You have to stand in lines, take a number, report to windows, have documents checked, and pay a fee. But, given the mission of the folks on those lines, there was none of the irritated clock watching and tense conversations that often occur when the public faces off against an overworked bunch of folks behind a counter. Think of a deliriously happy version of the DMV.

At a civil service like this, with literally hundreds of people waiting to give each other their first married kiss, the ceremonies are short and sweet. You walk in single, and three or four minutes later, you’re married. You walk out to the cheers and clapping of total strangers, who bid you good luck, and then walk in to try their own in a whole new chapter of their lives.

I thank Gene and Olivia for the invite to their wedding day. And Annie, who made the call. She snapped this Iphone shot of Gene last week. I’m sure today, he’s back at his station at Adorama, doing his thing, which he does quite well.

Being part of their nuptials was a great way to start the fall, a breath of cool air to blow out the sogginess of a long summer in the big city. It was also a powerful antidote to our current, roiling season of discontent and politics, announced daily in tiresome headlines that fairly reek of nastiness, exclusion and blame mongering. It was a wonderful, emotional reminder that when you find your beloved, your life becomes automatically good.

For the technically minded, the pix were all shot on Nikon D4 cameras, with ISO ratings ranging from 200 to 1600. A little bit of hot shoe flash was mixed in here and there. On the bridge we used a shoot through umbrella, with two SB900 units firing through it, maxed out, given the harsh sunlight. A lot of frames were shot with available light, and I pretty much, for the backgrounds, just let New York be New York. Lenses were 24-70, 70-200 and a 35 f1.4. Post was super basic–a bit of burning and dodging and contrast. Couple got sharpened a touch. Couple others had some NIK lighten/darken center. Other than that, these are JPEGS out of the camera.  Gene and Olivia, with their expression of love set against the vibrant mess of NYC, are as real and durable as the concrete they walked that day.

May the road rise up to meet you both…..more tk….

72 Responses to “A New York Wedding!”

Stan says:

on September 4, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Simple and sweet….they got it right.

Peluna says:

on September 5, 2012 at 8:14 am

This is exceptional work. Powerful, emotional, and really unique. Best of all it tells a great story without the captions. Congrats!!

ziv says:

on September 5, 2012 at 8:28 am

do you also do bar-mitzva’s

Nick says:

on September 5, 2012 at 9:30 am

These images literally put any viewer right there with them. Powerful and natural feeling without all the glitz and glamour that we sometimes think is required; these are a great reminder of what it’s all about.

Frank Burch says:

on September 5, 2012 at 10:15 am

Sweet story…thanks for sharing!

Tonia says:

on September 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Aw, they look so happy! I couldn’t stop smiling as i’m reading, scrolling and looking at the pictures. So much of their day reminded me of my wedding day at the courthouse in Brooklyn. On days like these it is is the moments you’ll remember not the train stalling, or the long lines or all the racing around days before. Appearantly you do ;0) well, they were very fortunate to have you there to capture the moments for them. Now I’ll have to congratulate Gene the next time I pop into Adorama.

Bob says:

on September 5, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Wait, I’m a lawyer getting ready for a deposition; I take a minute to check Joe’s Blog; and now there are tears. What’s going on here?

Good work. Thanks for brightening my day…I think.

B.D.MacMahon says:

on September 5, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Grand job altogether. You had to love her smile!

Al says:

on September 6, 2012 at 8:40 am

Great story to start my day, so refreshing to read and see something special in peoples lives.
well written and eloquently done.

Thanks for sharing all.

Bob LaRouche says:

on September 6, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Joe: I’m using your wonderful blog to tell my students at Webster University, St Louis, that when done well a wedding can be great photojournalism.
Great job. You never forget what it’s all about.

Marvin Moore says:

on September 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Great way to start the new (school) year. Very refreshing and sweet!
I, too, could not stop smiling!

Linnea says:

on September 8, 2012 at 8:51 am

Lovely couple!

Wedding photos are one of my favorite things, and these were more interesting than most, thank you!

Billy Sauerland says:

on September 9, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Well congrats to the newly weds, awesome way to do it, I’d say. I know they’ll have a great family photo album with you a call away, if only right! Well keep up the good work and the fun.

Georeg Aubrey says:

on September 10, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Great shots! You captured the emotion of the day. What a wonderful wedding gift from you and Annie to Gene and Olivia. Thanks for sharing with us.

Kay Horne says:

on September 12, 2012 at 7:24 pm

I don’t know you or the happy couple but I sat here, looking at your photos, and got all verklempt (that word is almost as full of expression as your photos). To me the photos reflected the speed, nervousness, chaos of the day, right along with the happiness of the couple who couldn’t have cared less what was going on around them as long as they had hold of each other. Thank you!

Raymond P says:

on September 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm

The pictures in conjunction with the story brought a tear to my eye. Their love and joy that wonderful day was evident in the pictures you shot. Thanks so much for sharing the beauty of their celebration.

Ian Hargraves says:

on September 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Hello Joe,
Just wanted you to know that with the hard work and good auspices of HELEN OSTER the dispute with used equipment department at Adorama has been amicably setthed. Thank you Helen you do yourself great justice and to your title Ambassador. You are a professional in evry sense of the world. Thank yopu

Ian Hargraves

Clare Szucs says:

on September 23, 2012 at 8:44 am

Here we are, nearly a month later, and I am still daily revisiting our son and daughter-in-law’s wedding via this great blog. Yes, I’m the wide-open mouthed mom, hugging Gene and cheering.
Gene’s and Olivia’s wedding made a believer out of me that simple is better when it comes to weddings. The most hassle we fought was keeping everyone’s boutonnieres on and straight. After that, it was all enjoyment. But the best was having Joe as Pied Piper, magically guide us through the event.
He and his righthand woman, Karen, arrived at the hotel at 7:45 a.m. with much photo gear in tow. Smiling and smoothly, Joe set up shots of Olivia putting on her veil , looking out the window, etc. And Gene fighting to keep his cool. Then, instead of taking a cab to the courthouse, Joe led us out the hotel and to the subway. As the happy couple and Dad and I followed, we soon realized we were spreading joy to all the passersby as sure as if we were throwing rose petals in their way. The sight of Olivia in her little white dress and red pumps and carrying her red rose bouquet with proudly grinning Gene at her side in his dark suit and red tie, elicited smiles and congratulations, right and left. Couldn’t have thought of a better exercise to set the bride and groom at ease.

The subway ride was a hoot. Unbelievably, that crowd, too, melted at the sight of the wedding party milking their moments for all they were worth as Joe directed the shots. After exiting back onto the sidewalks, we stopped for more shots posed on the steps of the supreme court. Then,after briefly stopping traffic, we made it into the courthouse.

When we walked in,it was like the reception had already started. What fun! Everyone was expectant, nervous but above all, happy. Never mind we didn’t know anyone except Gene’s and Olivia’s witnesses who were there to greet us. We were all there for one purpose and so were pleased to help brides fluff their veils, compliment a groom or just encourage the next couple in line.

But only we were privileged to have Joe with us. Full of energy and ideas for the next shot, he never flagged. Even once the ceremony was over and we were outside, he was again in the lead to shoot the couple in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge. Indeed, what a marvelous New York Wedding!

A million thanks, Joe. We’ll continue to treasure every moment through your lovely photos.

Clare and Pete Szucs

Joe McNally says:

on September 25, 2012 at 5:47 am

Dear Clare and Pete…..it was a truly wonderful day, and I was so proud to be a part of it. Olivia and Gene are truly, absolutely in love. It was just great to be a part of! All the best, Joe

Anne says:

on September 28, 2012 at 7:53 am

What beautiful photos and they look like such a happy couple, full of love and smiles. All the moments were natural and very NYC, just like a great wedding should be.

John Li says:

on March 21, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Great shoot! I love your works!

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